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Friday August 28th, 2015 8:53AM

S&P upgrades Suwanee to highest rating

By Staff
SUWANEE - Standard & Poor's (S&P), one of the big three among financial rating agencies, has upgraded the City of Suwanee's rating for its general obligation bond debt to AAA, the highest rating available.<br /> <br /> After completing a review of the City's rating, which had been AA, S&P upgraded the City to AAA with a stable outlook based on the City's continued economic expansion. "We consider the City's economy to be very strong," S&P says in its report. "The stable outlook reflects our anticipation that the City will maintain its very strong liquidity and budgetary flexibility."<br /> <br /> Suwanee is one of only four Georgia cities to have earned a AAA rating from S&P. The others are Roswell, Peachtree City, and Smyrna, which also was just upgraded. Alpharetta has a AAA rating from Moody's.<br /> <br /> "This is like going to the doctor and getting a really clean bill of health," says Mayor Jimmy Burnette. "We are confident that Suwanee is fiscally strong with sound financial policies and practices, but sometimes people don't believe you unless someone else says it's so. We're extremely proud that S&P has independently found Suwanee to be extremely fiscally fit."<br /> <br /> "This is great," says Suwanee resident Leo Lawrenson, who is a financial consultant to city and county governments across the country (but not to any in Georgia) through his Lawrenson Services firm. "A AAA rating says that the government entity's dependability for making payments on debt is high, that its revenues-to-debt ratio is good, that it's not in too much debt, and that the debt is being managed properly.<br /> <br /> "People think that such ratings are simply an economic indicator," he adds. "It's more than that, it's a big part of quality of life in a city. How sound a city's fiscal policy is affects everything. It's an indication of how well-run the city is."<br /> <br /> The City of Suwanee initially obtained a general obligation rating in 2002 when it issued bonds to fund its award-winning open space initiative, which resulted in the acquisition of more than 300 acres of greenspace and the creation of six parks. The City's initial rating was a AA- from both S&P and Fitch Ratings. Since then, the ratings from each agency have been periodically recalibrated and upgraded. The City currently has a AA+ rating from Fitch.<br />
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